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Slightly short of goal, Rountree Branch trail project goes ahead
City contribution grows to $285,000 after council vote
Rountree Branch trail map
The Rountree Branch Trail is shown in lime green, with the Platteville city limits in sky blue. - photo by Platteville Places/IIW

Moving Platteville Outdoors gave itself until Saturday to meet the $1.676 million goal for the Rountree Branch lighting and paving project.

On Monday, about $14,000 short of that goal, the MPO committee decided to go ahead with the entire trail project.

“Given the way the entire community has responded, the MPO steering group feels that the balance needed would be forthcoming,” said Platteville Community Arboretum board member Gene Weber Monday afternoon. “Trail-side businesses are being revisited to assure all their questions are answered. Lighting and other materials will be ordered early this week,” along with clearing of trees on either side of the trail.

Part of the reason for going ahead with the project is the Platteville Common Council’s vote Aug. 11 to expand the city’s financial commitment, from $200,000 to $285,000, using 2016 city funds.

The city originally approved a $50,000 matching grant in 2012 to what then was PCA’s “3 for $100K” project, to improve the trail and replace the trail bridge near Business 151 and Valley Road. Those funds were to come from the city’s Parkland Development Fund, funded by impact fees assessed on new residential units.

In March 2014, PCA replaced the “3 for $100K” project with Moving Platteville Outdoors, the proposal to pave and light the trail from Chestnut Street to the trail intersection north of Menards.

“After talks with grant specialists at various agencies and foundations, PCA realized that finding funding for lighting alone would be near impossible and that a larger project would likely be more attractive to funders,” said Weber in early 2014.

The council in March 2014 increased the city commitment to $200,000, taking the original $50,000 and another $20,000 from parking impact fees, $25,000 from the park Capital Improvement Plan, and $105,000 from Tax Incremental Financing District 5.

On Aug. 11, the council voted unanimously to add another $85,000 in financial commitment, with $23,000 from the Robert and Marjorie Graham Community Fund, and $62,000 from funds that were to be used for work on the city’s Municipal Building this year. 

The vote included using up to $50,000 in 2016 park impact fees as a contingency fund should PCA’s $34,000 contingency fund run out.

“We do consider that a little low,” said Weber of PCA’s contingency fund.

District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian said he was opposed to using Municipal Building funds for the trail project.

District 1 Ald. Barb Stockhausen, however, said it was too late to do significant Municipal Building work this year. “I highly feel we should use that money,” she said.

The vote means some of the Capital Improvement Fund that was supposed to go to Municipal Building work will go to building work this year.

When at-large Ald. Mike Denn asked how long borrowing from TIF 5 to fund the project would extend TIF 5’s being paid off, city Director of Administration Duane Borgen answered, “We don’t really know what TIF dollars we’re going to receive the next few years. The earlier we pay off the loan, the better for us. … We basically pay off as much as we can.”

When Denn asked what happens if PCA didn’t meet its fundraising goal by Saturday, Weber answered, “It just makes sense that we should fully fund the project before we add anything to the contingency. But that’s just my opinion.”

PCA’s Angie Wright said the project “also supports city goals,” including a “coordinated and balanced transportation system,” and was an “investment that will improve the quality of life.”

Rule Construction of Dodgeville is doing the two major parts of the project — paving and lighting the trail for $988,227.30, approved by the Platteville Common Council July 14, and building a new bridge over Rountree Branch at Valley Road for $180,938.45, approved by the Common Council Aug. 11.

Rule’s bid included three subcontractors — Iverson Construction of Kieler for pavement, Augelli Concrete Excavating of Richland Center for concrete work, and Schmidt Electrical Construction of Platteville for electrical work, according to city documents.

The bridge will be upgraded from the originally proposed design to allow one-half or three-quarter-ton pickup trucks to cross over the bridge, for $3,500 more than the original bid. The bid alternate was recommended by Delta 3 Engineering, which said in a memo that a higher weight rating would allow a pickup truck-mounted snowplow to remove snow; otherwise snow would have to be removed from the bridge by hand.

The first part of the project, near Katie’s Garden at the Platteville Regional Chamber, will be started in early September and is scheduled to be completed by April 30. The remainder of the project is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 15, 2016.

The largest portion of the funding of the project was a $642,692 Department of Natural Resources grant, which required a local funding match. The project also got a $45,000 federal Recreational Trails Program grant.

The UW–Platteville Foundation pledged $100,000. The Cindy Tang Charitable Trust contributed $25,000 in a challenge grant. Platteville Development Group pledged $25,000. Southwest Health pledged $20,000.

As of May, the project had received almost $190,000 in other grants and corporate donations outside Platteville, plus about $146,000 in local business donations and fundraising projects, and almost $250,000 in the residential fundraising drive and from service clubs and other projects.

PCA pledged to pay for half of maintenance costs up to $2,500 per year.